That Teresa May’s failed Brexit (and now withdrawn) ‘deal’ would have been bad for jobs, the economy, employment rights etc. etc. is a given simply because it’s a poorer deal than we presently have as EU members. Here’s what the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady had to say about it:-
But of course, every form of Brexit deal will only deliver a worse outcome than we presently have so no one can ever promise one that will meet, never mind better, our present situation as EU members. The TUC knows this better than most because it’s the millions of trade union members across the UK who are at risk from us leaving the EU under ANY deal.
However, I fear that Frances O’Grady has to be careful what she says with TU leaders like UNITE’s Len McCluskey trying desperately to stop Labour from adopting a pro-EU stance. Sadly there’s always been a wing of the trade union movement who have been anti-EU despite it being a really positive force for good on things like employment rights and protections. How on earth they can call themselves trade unionists beats me. As a life-long supporter of the TU movement, I’m ashamed that it has Little Englander’s in its ranks.
As a PCS member and former Branch Secretary of some 22 years service, this question both concerns and interests me and it features in Private Eye edition 1344.
The Eye seems to think that the trade union barons in both of these huge unions will want to merge to create more political muscle and that this could well be outside of shovelling more money into the Labour Party.
PCS has helped sponsor trade union candidates for UK elections and did so at the recent Eastleigh Parliamentary by-election. Clearly, it was PCS (and other unions) waving two fingers at Labour; trouble is their candidate got so few votes (62 in fact which was 0.15% of the votes cast) the move was pointless and merely cost PCS members and others a few bob in a lost deposit and other election costs.
PCS and indeed its predecessor unions were all basically been non-politically aligned i.e. their members being mostly public servants have not paid a political levy to the Labour Party. Personally, I have always thought that stance correct as public servants have to serve the Government of the day no matter who they are and to do so whilst paying a party political levy would hardly make public servants look impartial.
But UNITE is presently Labour’s biggest financial supporter (and problem?) and its members are affiliated to Labour. So how can two unions merge that are fundamentally split on supporting Labour? UNITE backs Labour and PCS backs trade union candidates who stand against Labour!
PCS is certainly playing down the merger and simply talking about forms of co-operation with UNITE.
An odd situation all together but I think PCS would be well advised to stop wasting PCS member’s money in local or Parliamentary elections. But underneath this process the real problem is the inability of the trade union movement to effectively find a way forward during our present economic down-turn.
To me as long-term trade unionist there was a certain inevitability to this very public war between Labour and its biggest trade union backer. It goes back to comments I have made before about the trade union movement not knowing how to respond effectively to austerity and the fact that with the next election being only a couple of years away Labour is starting to reposition itself to the right.
Trade union barons are almost always on the hard left these days and they thought that having put Ed Miliband in as Labour Leader he needed more hard left Labour Parliamentary candidates in place to keep him honest with them. Ed, of course, knows that left wing views don’t win British general elections as Tony Blair showed with his Christian/Social Democrat approach.
The trade union movement has spent generations trying to grasp the Labour Party and keep it where it wants it to be as an openly common ownership socialist party. When Labour is in opposition they always start off saying things that fit with the left but as each general election approaches they shunt over to a more right wing agenda. The trouble is that both the trade union movement and Labour Party know this dance around happens on a regular cycle but each thinks they will win next time. The trade unions are, of course, the ones who are always disappointed.
Talking of Unite, they may have had influences in/over the Sefton Central Labour Party if leaks from within this troubled constituency Labour Party are to be believed. Maybe Labour would care to enlarge on the extent of Unite’s influence in this constituency?